Two weeks of sailing this time, leaving everything behind. Our ship this year was a Bénéteau Oceanis 373 and our route can be found below. We covered some vast distances: starting from Split to Dugi Otok, going down south to Mljet, and back to Split again. My estimate is that we sailed approximately 300 nautical miles, or over 550 kilometres. This sailing expedition was a mixture of some familiar and some new territory.
Weather circumstances were a mixed blessing. We started with some beautiful sunny weather. After that, we had some days of mixed clouds, fresh weather and even some storms. The second half of the second week was beautiful sunny again. Fortunately, this meant that there was no shortage of wind. This year we had a lot of northerlies (Bura, Tramontana en Maestral). Usually 10 – 15 knots, but heavier sometimes: 30 – 40 knots. We ‘clocked’ our ship at 9,2 knots top speed.
A new day, and we are keen to go further south. After yesterday’s tiresome trip, we take it easy in the morning. Around 10:00 CET we leave the harbour of Tribunj behind us. The weather prognosis speaks of north-easterly winds. That is good, given that we want to go south-east. However, the wind rapidly changes in south-easterly as well, straight on our bow, and it stays there for the whole day. That means tacking, and not much progress in real terms. My original objective for today was Šolta, but halfway during the afternoon we have not even made it to Primošten. Besides that, there are regular rain showers and thunderstorms.
In the end, we reach Rogoznica around 17:00 CET. We do not really feel like another night in that marina. According to our Pilot Guide, the bay on the other side of Rogoznica island should be an excellent anchoring spot. After inspection, we do not agree. The coastal line is completely covered with holiday homes at various stages of completion. Not much authentic nature left this way! Unfortunately, you see that in many places along the Croatian coast. We do not really feel to anchor on in a construction area, so we do pick up a mooring in Marina Frapa after all, where I moor the boat in one of the tightest spots that I have managed so far. For comfort, we go and eat one of those great pizzas at Restaurant Fortuna that evening. It works.
It is quiet when we wake up in the morning. Still not much improvement in the barometer (981), but the sun is out and there is no wind. Because the long-term weather forecast for the northern coast is not that good, we decide to start moving south again.
Around 10:00 CET we are in the narrow channel between Kornati and Katina. Some careful manoeuvring with a maximum speed of 2 knots, because the channel is less than 3 meters deep at some places, and we draw 1.80 meters. According to the Pilot Guide we should stay on the Kornati side of the channel. The Pilot Guide is right…. Except for the last curve…! The depth meter jumps back from 5 meters to 2 meters. In a quick reaction I pull the gas handle backwards and turn the rudder hard to port towards open water.
We hear a scraping sound and the boat gets lifted a bit. My heart misses a beat. Will we run aground? What will be the damage? It lasts only a single moment, after which we pass the ‘threshold’ and glide into deeper water. A quick inspection under the floor panels shows that the boat is dry, and there is a sigh of relief. On the first possible occasion we inspect the bottom of the keel. A nice scratch, but it is not the first one and it will probably not be the last one.
Thomas Siffer once wrote that every sailor who said that he never ran aground, is a liar. And if not, that the running aground will still occur. It seems that I have become a sailor at last.
We quickly forget the incident when we get company of 3 dolphins, north-east of Žut. They stay with us for quite some time – it is already our second meeting in less than a week. And the dolphins bring something else with them as well: the wind. A little breeze, 6 – 8 knots, varying between south-west and north-west, gently carries us in a north-easterly direction towards Murter. However, there is a serious swell in Murtersko More. That turns this trip into an uncomfortable afternoon. Near the end of the afternoon Tribunj appears on the horizon, and around 18:00 CET we moor our ship on one of the last available spots in Tribunj Marina. After dinner, we visit the town of Tribunj, but take my word on it: you do not miss much if you just leave it like that.